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17 Simple Ways to Celebrate Yourself

Waiting for applause from other folks? Don’t! Self-celebration fuels our journey, says a psychologist. So go give yourself props. You're a badass and deserve it.

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illustration of woman smelling a bouquet of flowers with stars and hearts
Thumy Phan
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Who can forget Niecy Nash-Betts going viral in January after her Emmy Award acceptance speech for her role in Netflix’s Dahmer - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. After she thanked the usual people, she said this: “And you know who I want to thank? I want to thank me—for believing in me and doing what they said I could not do. And I want to say to myself in front of all you beautiful people, 'Go on girl with your bad self. You did that.'"

Baby, when I heard that, all I could do was scream, “Yes!”

See, I'm all about self-love and praise. I even have what I call an “I’m so great” list. Actually, it’s a multi-page document full of things that make me so amazing. Think personality traits, accomplishments, compliments from clients and people in my personal life, my best photos, things that bring me joy, and so on.

When I feel good about something, I add it. A bonus: Looking over the list when I'm down in the dumps usually gives me a boost.

Although it may sound conceited, experts say self-appreciation like mine and Nash-Betts’ is a good thing.

“As Black women, the world does a lot to tell us that we're not good enough, we're not smart enough and we don't work hard enough,” says Vanessa Frierson Freeman, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and owner of Searching for Self Counseling and Consulting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and the Greater Philadelphia area.

We all know that’s not true. But if you’re waiting for applause from other folks, you’re probably in for a long wait, says Dr. Freeman. Self-celebration gives us fuel for our journey and reminds us of our accomplishments, both big and small, she says.

So go ahead and give yourself props. You're a badass and deserve it.

  1. Think about why you’re GLAD. Carolyn Kagan, a soon-to-be 40-year-old, of Stamford, Connecticut uses the acronym GLAD as a journaling prompt and recommends it to her therapy clients. “GLAD stands for grateful, learned, accomplished and delighted, which helps to steer our thinking, ideally at the end of the day, towards the things we're grateful for, the lessons we've learned, what we've accomplished and what we found delight in,” she says.
  2. Cook your favorite meal or treat. What is it? Pasta? Brownies? Yum, chocolate. Savor that flavor. And, hey, if you’re really feeling fancy, have someone else do the cooking.
  3. Give your body credit. Focus on what you like about it instead of what you don’t like. Admit it: your brown skin is chef’s kiss. And your butt? Baby got back! Dr. Freeman adds to also appreciate what your body does for you. Mental clarity, movement, breathing -- all reasons to be thankful.
  4. Tell a friend. “Sometimes we have to be our own biggest promoters,” says Dr. Freeman. If you got that raise or mastered that thing you’ve been trying to do for a minute, don’t keep it to yourself. Share your good news with your inner circle or even on social media.
  5. Write yourself a love note. Or a poem. Or, if you really want to show yourself some love, make it a full-fledged letter. What do you like about sis the most? What’s her Black girl magic?
  6. Indulge in a hug in the tub. Every Sunday evening, Nyokabi Mickens, 47, of New York City, wraps up her hair, draws a warm bath with lavender oil, and writes in her journal as she soaks. “I describe it as a ‘hug in the tub’ because it truly feels like a warm embrace,” says Mickens. It hits the spot in all ways. “Physically, the warmth of the bath relaxes my muscles easing any tension built up over the week, and emotionally, the scent of lavender brings a sense of calm and tranquility washing away the worries and stresses,” she says. “It's a moment where I feel cocooned from the world's hustle, safe in my own space of serenity.”
  7. Play a “Feeling Myself” playlist. A few songs on mine: “Just Fine” by Mary J Blige; “Shining” by DJ Khaled, Beyoncé and Jay-Z; and, of course, “Feeling Myself” by Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé. When I'm on this vibe, nobody can tell me I'm not all that (plus more)!
  8. Do mirror work. Mirror mirror on the wall. Why, yes, you're the baddest of them all. Look in the mirror and speak positively to and about yourself. Speak positively to and about yourself while.
  9. Snap a photo. For the last several years, I’ve done a mini-photoshoot to celebrate my birthday. I don’t pay a photographer (have my son or my tripod for that), but I do my hair and makeup, get dressed and strike a gazillion poses. Ushering in my next chapter like this is my way of honoring another year of life.
  10. Date yourself. “Society, and even our families and culture, tell us we need a partner to do romantic things for us,” says, Krista Purnell, 44, a romance writer in Los Angeles. Um, no. She says she makes it a priority to romance herself. She buys herself peonies or pre-arranged bouquets from a local grocery store and goes on solo dates to her favorite French restaurant for crème brûlée and crémant. .
  11. Hang out with your support squad. There's nothing like being in the presence of folks that truly dig and appreciate you. Call up your besties (or your fam if they're the ones who keep you going). Get together, sharevictories and hype each other up.
  12. Bask in morning quietness. “Upon waking, I don't talk. I move, stretch, breathe and listen to God,” says Cynthia Lovely, 42, of Woodland Hills, California. “I feel this quietness helps me be a better me. Meaning, when I hear my inside voice or intuition, I listen and massage it, as I know it's God talking to me.” The morning calm also makes room for gratitude. “I am thankful for being alive, waking up, having a roof over my head and to keep smiling and moving positively throughout my day.”
  13.  Just pick one. Steal this idea from Dr. Freeman. “I celebrate myself by identifying one thing I am proud that I did that day,” she says. “It could be something as ‘small’ as remembering to drink water consistently and taking time to nap or something as ‘big’ as helping a client make a major breakthrough.” This simple habit forces you to notice the good instead of overlooking it.
  14. Use that PTO. Purnell says she sometimes plays hooky from work and visits a bookstore and drinks a latte. “Wandering the bookstore with my latte feels like a celebration because on most days I'm a black coffee, no sugar, no cream kinda gal. So if I'm feeling extra special, I'm splurging for the latte,” she says. And the bookstore reminds her of when her dad used to take her as a little girl.” “Having that special solo time to myself always feels like a little celebration,” she says.
  15. Move your body in ways that feel good. For me, that’s hula hooping and step aerobics. There's just something about rocking my hips and going with the flow of some banging music.
  16. Get dressed up. Put on that dress (you know the one). Or wear whatever it is that makes you strut your stuff. No special occasion necessary. Do it for yourself.
  17. Start your highlight reel. You know how social media sites and some music services do that cute little year-in-review thing at the end of the year? Even though it’s not January, it’s never too late to get started. From now on, keep track of achievements and what brought you joy during the year. Then do a recap (either to yourself or others) of the highlights whenever you feel like it. 
Follow Article Topics: Me-Time